YouTube goes gaga over iSchool

by Nancy Wick

We've come a long way from Marian the librarian. Since that young woman shushed everyone at the River City Library in countless productions of The Music Man, we've seen Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl become an action figure. And now this: Students and faculty at the UW Information School are in a music video gone viral -- a video in which the key word is ca-ca-ca-catalog.

If you haven't seen it yet, take this opportunity to go online and have a look. The video, created by MLIS graduate Sarah Wachter, had more than 680,000 hits as of September 15. It has been featured on (the online counterpart to New York Magazine), the Facebook page for KING5, on,, and Rachel Maddow's blog. It's also appeared on and The Huffington Post, and traveled across the Atlantic as one of the British paper The Guardian's viral videos of the day.

Wachter is currently traveling to celebrate her recent graduation, but she sent UWeek an e-mail in response to several questions:

"I made the video as part of the iSight Film Festival (Festival page), which was put on by the Information School and by iArts and iWrite, two student organizations at the iSchool. (Yes, we have a bit of a naming theme going on over here)," Wachter wrote. "That provided the impetus, but I really made it for fun -- I wanted to create a sort of capstone video for my friends and my cohort that included a lot of our library and iSchool in-jokes and that reminded us all of some of the fantastic and goofy professors we've been able to work with over the last two years."

"I put it on YouTube because I wanted to be able to easily share it with the other members of my cohort and with our families and friends. I thought it might get a bit of circulation around the broader library community as well, but I definitely didn't expect it to take off like this!"

The video itself is a parody of Lady Gaga's Pokerface:

You got a question that is causing you some pain
Typin' keywords into the search engine again.
Look your naive searching just ain't gonna get it done
Cause when it comes to search if it's not tough it isn't fun (fun)...

Wachter again: "It's been pretty amazing to watch the hits go up on YouTube and see where people and groups are linking to it. The comments have been really supportive and enthusiastic, and I'm just thrilled that it's making such an impression. I've had requests from several librarians and teacher-librarians in the U.S. and Canada to use the video in their information literacy instruction classes, which I think is fantastic and a great way to use it -- sort of a spoon full of sugar before you get to the meat of teaching info literacy or search strategies.&rdqup;

On her blog, Wachter explained how she produced the video: "The iSchool technology department loans camcorders to students, so I took one out and then frantically recruited faculty and students to say a line on camera for me. I got a group of students together to do the larger scenes, and then just brought my camcorder up to various professors' offices as they had a 15 or 20 minute chunk of time free for me to film them. I'd play Poker Face for them so they could sync their lines to the music, and then as I edited in Premiere Pro I only used the video and chucked the audio."

The singing was done by Wachter's friend and iSchool colleague Laura Mielenhausen, whom she says has "a gorgeous, Gaga-esque voice."

Wachter herself appears in the video, and that garnered at least one interesting response when she posted a Q&A on her blog.

"I think you need to add the following question to your FAQ," one reader wrote. "Are you single? P.S., it was funny to find out that the sexiest lady in the vid was the one who made it!"

Originally published in University Week, the faculty and staff newspaper at the University of Washington. Additional material added to this article after publication.